Thank You, Sheriff, for Those Precious Five Minutes …

The Hudson Valley had just hosted a welcome rainstorm after many days of sweltering heat.  It had been thickly overcast most of the day, a refreshing break from the recent blazing sun.  At about 8:30 PM on July 11th, I had to make a choice of where to exit on the NY State Thruway as I headed south to my home after visiting friends in Albany.
I was approaching Exit 20, the Saugerties/Woodstock exit.  Although closer to my final destination, there were errands I could run and get out of the way for the coming work week if I drove the 12 additional miles and exited at Kingston, locus of malls and the establishments on my list.

I scrapped the errands in favor of what I saw developing in the Western skies.
A late-in-the-day break in the cloud cover looked like it might usher in a high drama sunset.  I paid the toll and pulled the car off onto the apron just beyond the toll booth generally reserved for making emergency phone calls at the nearby kiosk.


Facing West, Exit 19, NYS Thruway, 8:32 PM . . .


I knew that I was technically in violation of the law to be parked there for recreational purposes – especially as I noticed a Sheriff’s SUV parked and facing me directly across the access road, lying in wait to nab unsuspecting travelers who might be a bit pedal heavy tonight.  It’s common knowledge that the cops up here are on a rampage attempting to meet and beat ever rising quotas in order to attract matching State funds directly proportional to revenues collected from traffic violations.

I had exposed myself as a “sitting duck” once I demonstrated no emergency was at hand, but a pressing curiosity to photographically track the sunset drama unfolding in the rear view mirror of this constable on patrol, had he bothered to look.


It didn’t take long for the “plot” to thicken  . . .


I feigned ignorance of breaking any highway law.  Fired up the Leica and began probing the great light show in the West with my camera.  I could feel the suspicious weight of the man’s eyes upon me, but assumed the stance of a professional and had already concocted a tall tale that I would expound should I be pressed:  I was on “freelance assignment” and hoping to gather worthy images that I could send to various Hudson Valley magazines for potential publication and to help “promote” tourism in the Valley.


The post-storm atmosphere hosted a battle between
the forces of Light and Darkness  . . .



I bore witness to a fiery battle between the gods
for control of the evening sky . . .


The Sheriff’s car began flashing its high-beams my way at the four minute mark.  I waved a wide “hello” from two hundred feet away, and then raised my right hand and signaled with my extended index finger (careful to keep “the bird” – middle finger – tucked tight against my palm) as if to say:  “Just give me ONE more minute.”

I swear the guy timed it, for sixty seconds later the siren yelped and lights began flashing. Had I not visibly demonstrated capping the lens immediately, he would have been all over me in a New York Microsecond, as I could hear the engine being revved-up as a final warning – growling like an attack dog just dying to snap its leash.


At 8:37 PM, the Sheriff fired on his siren and roof lights  . . .
My Sheriff-allotted 5 minutes were up at Exit 20 on the NYS Thruway,
just as the black cloud cover swallowed the forge of Hephaestus . . .


It had taken five whole minutes to fire off 27 shots, recording the quickly shapeshifting Western skies that seemed to be hosting a battle between the forces of Light and Darkness.

I waved “Thank You” above the roof, as I ever so carefully signaled, gave others their precious rights of way and made a picture perfect left turn before him like the good law-abiding citizen that I normally am.



n    o    t    e  :

Hephaestus is one of the twelve Greek Olympian gods.  An ugly god by all accounts, due to a complicated genealogy.  He was designated god of Fire, Metallurgy, Sculpture and the Forge.  Yet even despite his ugliness and deformities, he was married to Aphrodite, goddess of Love.

. . . . . . . . .

Images captured:   07.11.2010   |   Saugerties, NY

©  2010  George J Nicholson  All Rights Reserved   |  Logo Concept   |   Images   |   Commentary

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One Response to Thank You, Sheriff, for Those Precious Five Minutes …

  1. george says:

    Very much fun viewing the site remotely. Look forward to more wonderful cloud expositions. J

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